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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's That Time Again - Regulating Political Signs

As we get closer to the November election, it is important to review your local regulations on political signs and make sure they comply with statutory and constitutional limitations.  Most of you are familiar with the new political sign law (P.A. 96-0904)  adopted by the Illinois legislature last year.  This new law amended the zoning enabling statute to establish that “other than reasonable restrictions as to size, no home rule or non-home rule municipality may prohibit the display of outdoor political campaign signs on residential property during any period of time . . . .” 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1.  So, what does that mean?

Under the new law, home rule and non-home rule municipalities are prohibited from enforcing restrictions on outdoor political signs on residential property unless they relate to the size of the sign.  Many municipal sign ordinances had routinely included time restrictions for election signs that required the removal of signs within a certain time period after an election and prohibited the placement of signs before a certain date before an election.  Many other municipalities restricted the number of political signs allowed on a lot. Under this law, those restrictions are no longer enforceable on residential properties. 

But, you can still regulate political signs.  For example, you can regulate the size of election signs.  Some communities have addressed "clutter concerns" by enacting aggregate size restrictions on political signs.  You can also still regulate (and even prohibit) political signs on public property, including rights of way.  You can also still regulate political signs on non-residential property. 

As the election season approaches, municipalities might consider putting together a handy "fact sheet" to provide to candidates and residents regarding the local political sign limitations.

Post authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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